By combining artificial intelligence concepts with the human information processing model of Rasmussen, a conceptual framework was developed for real time artificial intelligence systems which provides a foundation for system organization, control and validation. The approach is based on the description of system processing terms of an abstraction hierarchy of states of knowledge. The states of knowledge are organized along one dimension which corresponds to the extent to which the concepts are expressed in terms of the system inouts or in terms of the system response. Thus organized, the useful states form a generally triangular shape with the sensors and effectors forming the lower two vertices and the full evaluated set of courses of action the apex. Within the triangle boundaries are numerous processing paths which shortcut the detailed processing, by connecting incomplete levels of analysis to partially defined responses. Shortcuts at different levels of abstraction include reflexes, sensory motor control, rule based behavior, and satisficing. This approach was used in the design of a real time tactical decision aiding system, and in defining an intelligent aiding system for transport pilots.